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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2013 Archive

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"Loyalist Trails" 2013-14: April 7, 2013


Duelling Loyalists: Part One of Two – by Stephen Davidson

Over the centuries, men have demonstrated many strange methods of proving what vain creatures they can be. One of the most bizarre ways of dealing with a perceived slight to one's dignity was the duel -- using either swords or pistols. With a revolution going on around them, you could not be blamed for assuming that loyalist men might have better things to do with their time than shooting at one another. And yet, duelling was not uncommon in the loyalist era.

Thomas Wooley was a loyalist who lived in New York's Queens County. His rebel neighbours tried to force him to join their militia three times, and he stubbornly refused on each occasion. Finally, he challenged the militia captain to a duel. Rather than receiving satisfaction, Wooley was put in jail by the provincial congress for being a "person whose going at large is dangerous to the liberties of America". At the end of the revolution, Wooley made peace with his neighbours and did not join the loyalist evacuation. He died in Queens County in 1824.

Benjamin Marston, a loyalist from Massachusetts, wrote about a duel that occurred in Halifax on June 18, 1779. Captain Abraham Van Buskirk was an officer with the Orange Rangers, a regiment in which three other family members also served. Marston wrote little of the duel, but Van Buskirk was obviously a better combatant than his opponent. Crawford, the Halifax garrison's apothecary mate, "was killed on ye Spot."

In January of 1780, Stephen Jarvis, a Connecticut loyalist, recorded a duel between two soldiers in the king's service on Staten Island. One combatant was John Moffet, an Irishman known to be a "rough, noisy, boisterous" ensign in the regiment. The other contestant was Lieutenant John Lawrence of the New Jersey Volunteers. Moffet, who was intoxicated, started a fistfight with Lawrence, but received a battered face for his efforts. As Jarvis noted in his journal, "a duel ensued and Moffet was killed."

The men used pistols, wounding one another as they fired, but Moffet did not survive. The commanding officer, Col. John Graves Simcoe, was so angered by the incident that he would not allow Moffet to be buried with the honours of war. Lawrence, the survivor, was tried by a court martial, but was honourably acquitted. Following the revolution, Lawrence settled in New Brunswick where he and his wife had 11 children. The family then re-located to Richmond Hill, Upper Canada in 1816; Lawrence died five years later.

Anthony Allaire was a New York loyalist who served as a lieutenant in the Loyal American Volunteers. Most of his tour of duty was in North and South Carolina. Although he survived numerous rebel attacks, it was a fellow loyalist who almost ended his life. In late March of 1781, twelve officers gathered in Charleston for a court martial to hear the circumstances around the death of Ensign Robert Keating of the Prince of Wales American Regiment. Anthony Allaire was accused of his murder.

On March 17th, Allaire, Keating and a group of friends were in the process of taking an intoxicated regiment piper off to serenade some Charleston ladies. As they paid their bill, the piper almost wandered off. Allaire stopped him just outside the tavern door. Keating accused Allaire of trying to make off with the piper and of spoiling everyone's fun. Words were exchanged, and Keating struck Allaire with his cane. Allaire threw the ensign down onto the street. Their friends separated the loyalist soldiers, but Keating got in the last punch, hitting Allaire with "a severe blow".

In the light of the new day, Allaire realized that "it was the effect of liquor that bred the dispute" and so he decided to make peace with Keating. However, some of Keating's friends felt that Allaire had been in the wrong and ought to ask for Keating's pardon. Allaire thought both men were equally at fault and would not apologize.

A few days later, Keating spied Allaire in a store. He dashed in and struck Allaire twice with his cane. The wounded lieutenant pursued Keating. The latter grabbed Allaire's own cane and continued to strike at his head. Allaire's feathered hat "stopped the force of the blows" enough that he was not knocked down. A nearby soldier gave Keating his small sword and the angry ensign lunged at the lieutenant, calling him a "damned cowardly rascal". Allaire used his cane to ward off the blows, and bystanders went between the men to prevent further bloodshed. Allaire then challenged Keating to a duel with pistols.

After getting his pistols and a friend to stand with him at the duel, Allaire went looking for Keating. When he found him in the street, Allaire demanded "immediate satisfaction". The transcripts of the court martial tell the rest of the story as Allaire gave his testimony.

"When Mr. Keating got nearly opposite his Quarters he said, "I shall have nothing more to do with you" then said I, Sir I must have something to do with you, at these words he struck me over the head with his Cane, I threw away the Cane I had in my hand and put both my Hands to my Pockets to get out my Pistols in Order to give him one of them, in the hurry one of the Pistols fell on the ground, I stepped back several paces and desired him to stand off he followed me and still persisted in making use of his Cane, I then unguarded the Pistol and cocked it, I told him again twice or thrice to stand off or I would blow his Brains out, Mr. Keating then made a Grasp at the Pistol and with one hand endeavoured to wrest it from me, while with the other he was striking me over the Head with his Cane, I stepped back and told Mr. Keating to stand off, he made another stroke at me, at the instant I discharged the Pistol."

At the end of Allaire's four-day court martial, he was acquitted of the wilful murder of Ensign Robert Keating. Two and a half years later, the duelling loyalist found refuge along the St. John River. He died on his farm in Fredericton, New Brunswick in 1838.

To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.

“At the Head of Lake Ontario”: Change to Friday Local Tour

The following change to the Local Tour for the Dominion Conference - May 31st 2013.

Due to circumstances beyond our control we will not be able to enter Dundurn Castle Friday afternoon, during our local tour time, since all the tour guides are being assigned to Battlefield Park, Stoney Creek that day. We can walk around the exterior of the castle to view the architecture and the location on the Burlington Bay. We will still tour the Hamilton Cemetery, the location of Burlington Heights, where the British troops were stationed during the War of 1812-14. Historian Robin McKee will be our guide.

In place of Dundurn Castle we will be visiting the Joseph Brant Museum, replica of the original homestead of Mohawk War Chief and British Interpreter, Joseph Brant. He was responsible for bringing the 2000 Six Nations people to the Grand River, site of the Haldimand Tract.

Dundurn Castle will be open Saturday afternoon.

“At the Head of Lake Ontario” Highlights: The Industrial Past

In the beginning, forest covered the entire Head-of-Lake-Ontario region. A chopping mill, established in 1815 became the first industry in the area. Growth of industry was aided in 1827 by a channel cut to link Burlington Bay directly with Lake Ontario, thus improving its marine transportation.

In 1833, when Hamilton was incorporated as a police village, there were about 120 twenty dwelling houses and about 1,000 inhabitants. There were seven taverns, sixteen stores, two watchmakers, two saddlers, four merchant tailors, four cabinet makers, four boot and shoe makers, two bakers, four newspapers, one druggist, one hatter, three milliners and one tin and sheet iron manufactory.

With that one tin and sheet metal manufactory, Hamilton's history as Steel City began. And because the area produced steel, other industries based on steel quickly sprang up The first Canaadian-built locomotives were built in Hamilton. There were foundries and machine shops associated with the Great Western Railway. Other industries produced farm implements and sewing machines . Some of you will remember Studebaker cars.

One of the oldest companies still in operation in the region got its start in 1882. A local farmer, Ernest D'Israeli Smith, being frustrated by having to pay someone else to transport his fruit from the area, took matters into his own hands and founded his own company. Today, is there anywhere in Canada that E.D. Smith jams and jellies cannot be found?

Hamilton is also the birthplace of Canadian Tire. In 1934 John Billes and Alfred J. Billes with a combined savings of $1,800, bought Hamilton Tire and Garage Ltd. and renamed it "Canadian Tire" because it sounded big.

And don't forget that Tim Hortons began in Hamilton. The original store (1964) still operates on Ottawa Street North.

Steel is and was the basis of Hamilton industry, but there has always been much more.

This ends the series of vignettes about Hamilton and area. Have you booked your room for the conference? Registered? For details and registration for UELAC Conference 2013 in Burlington, brought to you by Hamilton Branch, visit "Meet us at the Head of Lake Ontario".

...Jean Rae Baxter, UE

An Open House Celebrating Loyalist Heritage, April 27, in Halifax

Everyone with an interest in loyalists, Nova Scotia history, and genealogy is invited to attend an Open House celebrating our province's loyalist history. Sponsored by the Halifax-Dartmouth Branch of the United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada, this two-hour information session is free to all.

In addition to small group discussions that will allow our participants to share their family history, there will be advice from an experienced genealogist and a featured talk on Loyalist Era Nova Scotia.

Stephen Davidson, the author of The Burdens of Loyalty and over 300 loyalist history articles, will give the context for the stories of the loyalist ancestors of the Open House's participants. Our small group discussions will focus on the American colonies of the represented ancestors and on the places in Nova Scotia where they settled. (Come prepared to share your family's history!) The UELAC branch genealogist will lead a session on how you can learn more about your loyalist ancestors in Nova Scotia and beyond.

Among our invited guests are members of the Black Loyalist Heritage Society of Nova Scotia, The Shelburne Re-Enactment Association, the Genealogical Association of Nova Scotia, and the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society. Whether this is your first enquiry into your loyal ancestry or part of a lifelong interest, our Loyalist Descendants' Open House promises to be informative and educational.

Our informative Open House will include coffee, sandwiches and sweets during a break time that will allow you to meet other loyalist descendants, genealogy buffs, and Nova Scotia historians.

We will meet at 2:00 p.m. in the hall of St. Andrew's United Church on the corner of Robie and Coburg Streets in Halifax. The afternoon will conclude with a meeting of the local UELAC Branch members, but visitors are welcomed to stay. For more information contact me.

...Jim McKenzie, (506) 832-5334

Ontario Graphic Licence Plate Project Update

Good news! I am pleased to report that we have received enough pre-orders to proceed with our application for UELAC-badged licence plates. According to Service Ontario, this should mean that the plates will be manufactured and ready for distribution by November.

In the meantime, we are still taking orders and very much want to see as many UEL plates on our roads as possible. Don't miss out on your chance to show off your Loyalist heritage. All details and order forms can be found on the Dominion website, or email me at

...Ben Thornton, UE, Toronto Branch,, 905-486-9777

Where in the World?

“Crew's all here.” Where is the Kawartha Branch team?

To participate, submit a photo of yourself in UELAC promotional gear at a place of some note and tell us where it is. If you are a member of a branch, please indicate that as well – send to Jennifer Childs.

Loyalists and the War of 1812

Thanks to those who have contributed to the slowly growing index of Loyalists and the War of 1812.

We have added a new entry for Henry Davy thanks to Richard Clark.

If you have a family ancestry which qualifies (see the heading of the page with entries), please submit to Our rich history continues to emerge through these family histories.

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:
- Harding, Israel – from Carol Harding with certificate application
- Ott, Jacob – from Sandy McNamara

Please help us build the directory by contributing more information for it. Contact for instructions and guidance.

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